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Apr 29, 2021
This article is part of a series called ERE Digital: Back to the Future.

In the past, recruiting has focused almost exclusively on finding external talent. But the future will look different as TA departments will — should — tap talent in their own orgs. 

At ERE Digital, May 25-27, Mai Lan Nguyen, Schneider Electric’s SVP of HR for North America, will be delivering a presentation titled “Don’t You Forget About Me: Modernizing Internal Recruiting to Find Hidden Talent in Your Org.” She’ll reveal how the company created its Open Talent Market to grow people while addressing recruiting needs, providing insights into:

  • The evolving intent behind the platform developed to connect people and jobs internally
  • The role that recruiters have played to ensure effective and efficient sourcing of talent
  • The impact that the company’s initiative has had on recruiters, hiring managers, and employees 

Mai Lan gave a sneak peak into her presentation during a recent conversation I had with her about how Schneider Electric is advancing talent within the company.

Vadim: What made you launch your Open Talent Market to start off with?

Mai Lan: We asked ourselves, How do you retain the best talent? How do you live up to the promise to grow your people and provide them with career-growth —  especially in a global environment where it can sometimes be difficult to gain visibility into various opportunities. At many big companies of our size, employees can feel that it’s easier to find a new role on LinkedIn than inside the organization. 

We also know that generally speaking people leave jobs because they feel a lack of opportunity. But we do have opportunities. The challenge was ensuring that employees have visibility into them. So we looked really deeply at how tech could help us really change the culture to improve focus on internal mobility. And never mind that the cost of hiring is often higher than developing people internally. 

I know at many companies, these sorts of initiatives can take a long time to implement. How long did it take at your organization?

We launched in less than a year, which is definitely not common in HR. Admittedly, we didn’t have a lot figured out when we launched — and that was on purpose, because we wanted to learn as we went along. We felt it was better to start small and learn than wait for perfection and then 10 years later still nothing happens. Basically, we started with an idea, piloted, and scaled. 

What’s been the reaction of recruiters and other TA professionals in your company? I’m asking partly because I’ve read some criticism of OTM — that the tool created more work and confusion for recruiters. That there was a lack of cohesion between OTM and your ATS. That internal candidates ended up falling through the cracks, creating angst among them.

I appreciate that candor and the opportunity to address it. First, I want to point out that change is always difficult. It’s true that we did have issues after we launched, but we learned — and are continuing to learn — from them. 

For example, initially we didn’t give recruiters access to the platform, which created frustrations among hiring managers and recruiters related to notifications from the platform for hiring managers and subsequent lack of access for recruiters. As a result, we ended up giving access to recruiters. We also improved the process to ensure that every candidate got a reply.

Now, it’s true that OTM and our ATS, while linked, are still not matched up seamlessly. Recruiters would still need to access both systems, but like I’ve said, we are still learning and are trying continuously to improve. I’ve been learning these along the way, continuously trying to improve. 

How else has the platform evolved, especially as it relates to the role of recruiters?

Initially, this was a matching platform where employees would get role and project suggestions based on their aspirations and experiences. Part of the aim was actually not to involve recruiters with this internal mobility, so that they could focus on attracting the best talent externally. It was to free them to attract external people to address competencies that we didn’t have internally. 

But we realized this was a missed opportunity to help recruiters manage the whole pipeline of both internal and external people. Now if you are a recruiter, you can see the full range of people and opportunities to enable better matching. 

So, again, to address some of the criticisms you mentioned, yes, prior to us opening OTM to recruiters, recruiters would have a difficult time approaching talent internally without approaching HR or a person’s manager. But now, with an open market, a recruiter doesn’t have to worry about that. The parties can manage the pipeline together, which enables a better understanding of strengths that are internal vs needed externally for a given role. In other words, there’s less drama now that people can connect more directly over opportunities

How do you see OTM evolving further?

We’re always aiming to create a better experience for candidates and recruiters, to really help them interact better digitally. One application I can see going forward is to open up projects to college students and align OTM with a university hiring strategy. I can envision targeting certain schools and having open competition for projects that students can apply for. This would also enable recruiters to give feedback to candidates and suggest training or development opportunities.

I love that idea! And now finally, is there a great employee story that comes to mind as a result of that person using OTM?

We have many stories, but one in particular involves a field supervisor in a business unit. Through OTM, she applied for work with the government affairs team, and eventually she ended up on a Zoom call with our CEO for North America and a U.S. Senator about how Schneider Electric can help sustainability. She was on the call not just to listen but to complement the conversation. 

Six months later, this employee found her dream inside the company partly as a result of that experience she gained through OTM. And that’s really what OTM is about, opening new doors for people. 

Want more insights from Mai Lan about how to improve internal recruiting at your organization? Join her at ERE Digital, May 25-27, for “Don’t You Forget About Me: Modernizing Internal Recruiting to Find Hidden Talent in Your Org.” Register here to receive 10% off your ticket price.

This article is part of a series called ERE Digital: Back to the Future.
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